Floodplain Buyouts: An Action Guide for Local Governments on How to Maximize Community Benefits, Habitat Connectivity, and Resilience

This Action Guide is designed to support local decision makers in utilizing hazard mitigation buyouts to reduce flood hazards, while supporting habitat connectivity and resilience on these lands. The report describes the floodplain acquisition process, why to manage acquisitions to improve habitats, and how to leverage the potential ecological and social value of properties to improve climate resilience.

The Environmental Law Institute and the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment conducted case studies on a number of representative communities across four states that have established programmatic and management structures for floodplain buyouts - to maximize the habitat and flood mitigation benefits of these properties.

Case studies were developed for the following communities:

  • Austin, East Grand Forks, Montevideo, and Moorhead, Minnesota
  • Clyde, Kinston, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina
  • Pequannock, Sayreville, and Wayne, New Jersey
  • Jefferson County, Kenosha County, and Pierce County, Wisconsin

Section I - Acquiring Property in the Floodplain: Buyout Programs, explains how FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program works in relation to voluntary property acquisitions, or floodplain buyouts.

Section II - Managing Floodplain Acquisitions to Maximize Habitat and Resilience Benefits, presents habitat restoration and community-friendly activities for acquisitions  - and highlights examples from case study communities. Each ecological restoration activity includes an overview of restoration costs, the capacity needed to accomplish the intervention, and ongoing maintenance requirements.

Section III - Making it Happen: Challenges and Issues to Consider When Determining What Can Be Done with a Property, addresses “the practical questions that must be asked when planning, presenting, and executing post-buyout projects. Topics range from funding and maintenance responsibility to ensuring community buy-in and successful partnerships."


Publication Date: April 2017

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  • Case study


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